TODAY -

Cancer on the rise among young adults: Causes, prevention and action

Aubaid Ahmad Akhoon *



As we conquer new frontiers in science and techno- logy, promising breakthroughs and unprecedented achievements, we are also confronted with an equally pressing reality: the alarming rise in deadly diseases.

The very advancements that propel us forward in countless aspects of life are paralleled by the emergence of health crises that demand our immediate attention. Yet, as we traverse the landscape of modernity, we find ourselves confronted with a paradox the very advancements meant to enhance our lives have, in many ways, diminished our well-being.

In an era where technological and medical advancements should theoretically extend our lifespans and improve quality of life, we are instead witnessing a disturbing trend. The proliferation of sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy dietary choices, and exposure to environmental pollutants are contributing to a rise in non-communicable diseases, particu- larly among the younger population.

Day by day, as science and technology open new doors of success and opportunity, they also shed light on the stark challenges we face. The changing landscape of our lifestyles, dietary habits, and the widespread consumption of harmful substances have exacted a devastating toll on the health and well-being of our young generation.

Recent findings from a survey conducted by the "Cancer Mukt Bharat Foundation" have illuminated a concerning reality : there has been a 20% increase in cancer cases among individuals under 40 years old. This revelation underscores the urgent need for a deeper examination of our lifestyles and their impact on health.

Breaking down the data, it's revealed that 60% of these cancer patients under 40 are men, with 40% being women. The types of cancer vary, with head and neck cancer comprising 26% of cases, followed by gastrointestinal cancers like colon, stomach, and liver at 16%, breast cancer at 15%, and blood cancers at 9%.

These numbers paint a stark picture of the diversity of cancers afflicting our youth. Each diagnosis is a stark reminder of the fragility of life and the urgent need for collective action.

Causes of Rising Cases Among Young Adults

Dietary Habits: Our modern diet, characterized by the widespread consumption of ultra-processed foods high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and additives, has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. These foods not only lack essential nutrients but also contain harmful chemicals that can damage DNA and increase cancer susceptibility.

Tobacco and Alcohol Use : The rampant use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs among the youth further exacerbates the risk of cancer. Tobacco smoke contains a cocktail of carcinogens that can damage DNA and trigger cellular mutations, while excessive alcohol consumption impairs immune function and disrupts hormone regulation, increasing susceptibility to cancer.

Sedentary Lifestyle: Physical inactivity and prolonged sitting have been identified as independent risk factors for certain types of cancer, including colon and breast cancer. Lack of regular exercise can contribute to weight gain, hormonal imbalances, impaired immune function, and compromised DNA repair mechanisms, promoting cancer development.

Environmental Factors : Exposure to environmental pollutants, such as air and water contaminants, industrial chemicals, and radiation, can contribute to the development of cancer. These carcinogens can disrupt cellular processes and trigger genetic mutations that lead to cancer formation.

Preventive Measures and Lifestyle Changes

Healthy Diet : Promoting a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help mitigate cancer risk. Emphasizing the importance of nutrient-dense, plant-based foods and minimizing the consumption of processed and sugary foods can support overall health and reduce cancer incidence.

Tobacco and Alcohol Avoidance: Quitting smoking and avoiding tobacco products altogether can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. Similarly, limiting alcohol consumption to moderate levels (if not abstaining entirely) can lower the risk of alcohol-related cancers.

Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, can lower cancer risk by maintaining a healthy weight, improving circulation, and boosting immune function. Incorporating daily exercise routines, leisure activities, and outdoor playtime can promote physical fitness, mental well-being, and overall resilience against disease. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse is essential for prevention. Providing educa- tion on the health risks associated with these substances and offering support for smoking cessation and addiction recovery can empower individuals to make healthier choices.

Sun Protection: Protecting the skin from harmful UV radiation by wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and seeking shade during peak sun hours can help prevent skin cancer. Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps, which emit dangerous UV rays.

Environmental Awareness: Minimizing exposure to environmental carcinogens by reducing air pollution, avoiding direct contact with hazardous chemicals, and following safety protocols in occupational settings can lower cancer risk.

Access to Screening and Early Detection

Regular cancer screenings and early detection are crucial for improving treatment outcomes and survival rates. Encouraging individuals to undergo routine screenings for common cancers, such as breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer, can facilitate early intervention and timely treatment.

Bottom Line

Addressing the surge in cancer cases among young adults requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both individual behaviors and systemic factors. By promoting healthy lifestyles, advocating for tobacco control measures, and improving access to preventive care and treatment, we can mitigate the impact of cancer and safeguard the health and well-being of future generations.

It is imperative that governments, healthcare providers, communities, and individuals work together to combat this growing public health crisis. Supporting policies and initiatives aimed at reducing air and water pollution, promoting renewable energy sources, and preserving natural ecosystems can create healthier living environments for all.


* Aubaid Ahmad Akhoon wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on June 15 2024.



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